Kalinic, Serbia bracing for demanding EuroBasket

2022-08-17T16:37:32+00:00 2022-08-17T16:37:32+00:00.

Giannis Askounis

17/Aug/22 16:37


Nikola Jokic on board is a huge boost for Serbia, but competition is expected to be fierce

By Johnny Askounis/ info@eurohoops.net

Playing basketball can’t be considered pressure, explained Nikola Kalinic. The FC Barcelona newcomer preparing alongside his international teammates for Serbia’s upcoming games talked to Mozzart Sport about the 2022 EuroBasket, among other topics.

“For me, this is definitely one of the strongest EuroBasket tournaments,” he suggested, “Lots of good players, [Nikola] Jokic, [Luka] Doncic, [Goran] Dragic. A lot of NBA players but also EuroLeague players. Fans are excited to watch national teams, there will be many fans and good entertainment.”

Kalinic, 30, had two points in the recent friendly win over Montenegro. The next tune-up game is against Slovenia and Luka Doncic in Ljubljana tonight, Wednesday.

“Slovenia is a great national team, the defending EuroBasket champions, and it’s always good to play against the best,” he described, “I think that both teams will use this game as a part of the training camp aiming to get ready to go far in EuroBasket.”

Serbia has been hampered by injuries, before and during the training camp. However, expectations are always high for the powerhouse of European basketball.

“We play basketball and enjoy it. We prepare and want to be as good as possible. The pressure is war in Ukraine or anywhere else,” he answered a question about potentially feeling pressured to succeed, “That is pressure. What we do is about enjoyment at the end of the day.”

Bogdan Bogdanovic, Aleksej Pokusevski, and Nikola Jovic were ruled out of EuroBasket and preceding 2023 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. Nikola Jokic is the lone NBA player remaining for Serbia.

“Nikola being here automatically means he wants to play and compete,” Kalinic shared his view on the back-to-back NBA MVP, “He is one of best players, if not the best player in the world right now.”

Serbia is set to compete in Prague against the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Finland, Israel, and Poland, seeking a ticket to the next round and Berlin. The top four teams of Group D will make it to the knockout stage of the tournament.

Apart from EuroBasket in September, a home game versus Greece and a visit to Turkey pop out next week to start Group I of the FIBA World Cup European Qualifiers.